By Iole Damaskinos
The US system is a “perfect example” of a federal state to be emulated, president of the Pancyprian Association of America, Philip Christopher, said at the annual conference for Cypriot diaspora taking place in Nicosia.
Christopher, who was born in Kyrenia, said that all expatriate organisations in the US “are united and will fight together for the reunification of Cyprus”.
He added that the conference will highlight successes of the last 49 years, but will also examine the failures, noting that not a single refugee had returned home during this period.
“On the contrary, we are losing Varosha and the Green Line because of Turkey’s aggression,” he said.
Referring to hardline statements by Turkish President Tayip Erdogan, who has taken the unwavering stance of demanding a two-state solution, Christopher wondered if “we know what we want,” referring to the bizonal, bicommunal federal solution.
The leader of the Greek Cypriot and Greek American communities asked how many people understood what that solution meant.
“We are dividing the Republic of Cyprus and Cypriot citizens, according to their race, and their religion,” which is an anachronism, Christopher claimed.
“If Turkey wants a two-state solution let’s give them an example,” Christopher told attendees, noting that the US federal democracy is “a perfect example”, where everyone can live where they want and move freely between states, while enjoying equal rights.
He proposed a two-state federated solution in Cyprus based on the US model.
He noted that the US system protects all its citizens with the same rights and citizenship, an identity, a flag, and national character, and that this is what Cyprus needs in order to progress.
On the topic of Erdogan having sought to buy 40 Lockheed Martin F16 fighter jets for Turkey from the US, and the support of this bid by President Joe Biden, Christopher said “all US organisations are united and will fight together for the reunification of Cyprus and to keep Turkey away from the F-35 and F-16”.
Christopher proceeded to outline actions Cyprus can take towards a solution, including the massive promotion of a media campaign in the US, an idea which he said he had originally proposed in 1978, as the youngest member the then US delegation to Cyprus.
People laughed at the time, he said, noting that the purpose was to convince world that the Cyprus issue was a not a bicommunal one but one of invasion and occupation.
Heightened awareness brought about by the current invasion of Ukraine may indicate the time is ripe to address the fact that the first invasion in Europe was not in Ukraine, but in Cyprus, with the use of US weapons by Turkey, Christopher suggested.
Christopher also noted that diplomatic ties with Israel and Jewish Americans were of utmost importance, as in 1978, when the delegation pushed for Cyprus to recognise that state.
The links with Israel put Cyprus in good stead, because Israel and the Jewish American Committee helped uphold the arms embargo against Turkey, he said.
Close relations of the Republic with the USA were important Christopher reiterated because it is the only country that can put pressure on Turkey.
The US diaspora leader noted that all of these factors are as relevant today-when he is the oldest attendee-as they were in 1978, when he was the youngest.
The article was published in the Cyprus Mail on August 23, 2023